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Morning Mantra

Every morning I languish a little in bed. I listen to the birds who are calling for Spring. I listen to Bob making coffee in the kitchen. I try to remember yesterday’s Wordle. Then I stretch, just a little, like Ms Bean would do after getting up from her comfy bed. I take note of my pain – my neck is blessedly quiet, how is the right hip, how far can I bend the knees? I expected that my bones would ache in the morning with age, and improve as I moved through the day. Instead, it’s the opposite. My body is at its best when I awake, and as the day wears on, the osteoarthritis kicks in.

Lately though, my first thought is about my sister.

My sister Kay is the oldest one of us still living. The glamorous, Lipstick Feminist Stewardess of the 50s and early 60s. My sister, who at 15 carried me to my foster parents after our Year of Living Dangerously, and left me in Victory Gardens, never to forget me. The working, single mom on the Upper East Side of New York who was a template for Holly Golightly. Audrey Hepburn’s character and Kay both survived a traumatic childhood, and navigated rocky romantic relationships. I always looked up to her; I envied her ability to draw and paint like a Dutch Master. She had a way of being in the world that was easy and full of confidence. Kay is an artist and charismatic still, and only slightly directive like a big sister.

Last week Kay took it upon herself to clean the top of the refrigerator. You may ask why would an 88 year old decide to climb a step stool? I know I did. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never cleaned the top of my refrigerator. .. ever. That being said, she fell and broke her other hip. The good hip. Her surgery was just four days ago and her daughter, with help from local family members, is helping to manage her transition to acute care rehab. Living alone, for most us, will prove too hard eventually. We Boomers need to plan for continuing care long before we need it, before a medical crisis. I guess it’s just too hard to look our mortality in the face.

About three years ago, Kay told us that her hospital was starting a new Geriatric program for its medical students. Maybe it was a response to the pandemic, but my sister was asked if she’d like to participate. My brother Dr Jim and I encouraged her, and since she had already mastered Zoom for our Sunday sibling sessions, we thought she’d enjoy chatting with a young person. And of course, she loved it! So much so, that Kay has now met the young medical student, Esha’s, friends and gone out to dinner with her a number of times. And although this is the season for exploring residency programs all over the country, thankfully Esha has been at her bedside and helping us connect with her orthopedic team.

I remember my stylish sister: having cherries jubilee set ablaze at the Rainbow Room; walking to the Metropolitan Museum and the Whitney and the Guggenheim; my niece’s wedding at the Convent of the Sacred Heart; going to the Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center; walking to the Madison Deli for our favorite sandwiches; meeting Dr Jim at an outdoor cafe when he returned from Vietnam. I was drinking Grand Marnier and the smell of oranges always brings me back to that moment, waiting with my sister.

Bob has started up the elliptical. And Ms Bean is roaming around the house wondering if it’s time for a walk. Our senior pup is deaf and mostly blind, but she can still smell like a trooper and insists on her daily walks around the neighborhood. Wouldn’t you if you had 100 million sense receptors in your nose? I’ve heard her slow sniffing is like reading the gossip column every day. Still, in January, I find myself wishing that Bean would get on with it. After all, walking is a big part of my recovery.

The Bride has loaned me a book by Katherine May, “Wintering: the Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.”

“By winter, she means not just the cold season, but “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.” In Wintering, May writes beautifully of her own recent bout with a personal winter, a period when she felt low and overwhelmed, out of sorts and “out of sync with everyday life.” 

https://www.npr.org/2020/11/10/933008027/in-wintering-katherine-may-encourages-the-active-acceptance-of-sadness

I guess my winter started early last year, in the midst of summer actually. I was told by multiple doctors to, “shut it down.” No traipsing off to Italy. No more walking! I had to rely on Bob for everything and he was my rock. And now that the pelvis has healed, I must be “careful” for the next few months and build back my strength. I’ve graduated from water PT to land PT.

Yesterday I asked Bob to deliver some of my homemade soup to a neighbor who is experiencing her own winter, caring for her husband. We are, all of us, buffeted by seasons of joy and sorrow. My sister is strong, and smart and willing to walk again. I’m beginning to see the signs of Spring.

Home Improvement

While I was sitting in my Snug the other day, I could hear an HVAC guy maneuvering his weight through our crawl space beneath me, while Bob was setting up a squirrel trap above me in the attic. Not to worry, no squirrels were found or harmed in the Havahart trap since we fixed their entrance hole under an eave. And by that I mean the proverbial “we” because Bob is always my handy/fix/it/go/to guy. He also managed to perfume the attic with certain squirrel repellant smells like peppermint oil. But to the point – while squirrels scampered across our roof wondering where their winter home had gone, writing time in my Snug has been scarce lately.

I do however have my Physical Therapy marching orders. There is a list of upper body and lower body things I MUST DO every other day if I want to continue ambulating without a walker. In our family room, I push the small table back into the couch and roll out my yoga mat. I assemble the various props – foam roller, bands and weights. And then about 45 minutes later, I put everything away and ice what hurts. Bob also has his PT routines, but along with his exercises he has decided to show our new/old house some love.

He had a floor guy give us an estimate on fixing and refinishing our original, red oak floors. My handy husband ordered the lumber for rebuilding a set of outside stairs to the family room. And he is currently researching the whole air quality, HVAC systems for residential housing. We are enamored with a new PBS show called “Home Diagnosis.” It’s very informative and a well done synthesis of science and building with shows like “Healing Your Home Chemistry,” and “Keeping the Cold at Bay.” In fact, Bob has scheduled a Zoom consultation with one of the show’s hosts! https://www.pbs.org/show/home-diagnosis/

“Keep an eye out for the Home Depot truck,” he just called out to me as he was heading out the door with Ms Bean for her daily constitutional.

It seems we’re expecting a delivery of insulation for the attic! What if we pad up our insulation, replace the old windows and repair and clean the ducts? You know, those ducts in the crawl space that have hosted a few possum parties over the years. Maybe we wouldn’t need a whole new HVAC system! And why does every single local TN technician absolutely hate heat pumps?? We had one in VA; it’s a greener way to condition your air. We may even get a rebate if we go that route.

If we don’t plunge into a real recession, our plan for the Spring is to move the big elliptical machine and our various PT/Pilates-like things into a newly refurbished garage. A Mitsubishi mini-split would nicely meet the heating and cooling needs in our free standing home gym. I might even pitch the idea of a fireplace!

Of course the more projects Bob has taken on, the more tools seem to be accumulating in the garage. Since it also happens to double as a fun place for the Pumpkin to do some building and repair work with his grandfather, I’d be happy to see a small workshop in the garage as well. Storage area, maybe? And let’s not forget the possibility of a pool in the backyard! The garage may one day have to turn into a cabana… It will become a serious multipurpose, year round space.

For my part, I’ve been perusing wallpaper. I’d like to paper one wall in the guest bath, myself. This is called sticking your toe gently into the DIY universe. Granted I’ve never tried wallpapering, but they are now peel and stick so how hard could it be? And don’t worry, I’ll let Bob climb the ladder. I’ve got my colors down, a mix of French blue and the current Kitten Whiskers paint color which is a dusty lilac. The hard part is picking something out – floral or animals, small prints or large? We have an abundance of rabbits in our yard, so I’m leaning toward a rabbit and fox motif, but I don’t want it to look like a nursery. Then again a jungle full of parrots might be uplifting.

The Grands dropped by a few times over the weekend. They love to traipse after Bob and help him with his projects. Here they are taking a much needed checkers break. When I was informed that the Bride gave them the “NO Screens” edict, I replied, “Your Mother is not my dictator!”

“She kinda is ours,” the Pumpkin said decisively.

Before my first cup of coffee, Bob said, “Have you seen your texts?”

California is at risk of floating away from a series of heavy storms, so my first thought was, “Are the kids evacuating?” Most of the rain is in Northern California but you never know.

Bob assured me everything was alright, while I looked at him incredulously. After an early morning series of text messages with the Bride, he couldn’t wait for me to read the news. While scrolling through the New York Times it seems the Bride came upon a familiar face – her brother! Yes, the very one who lives above a canyon in LA! We had failed to tell her he’d been interviewed during the summer about his work, but in fairness he wasn’t sure when the article, or even IF the article would be published.

I always thought the Rocker’s face would be on the cover of Rolling Stone someday, but for an old-fashioned news reporter, landing in the Grey Lady is the epitome of greatness! I sipped my coffee as I read the essay about the latest trend in trailer music and my son’s specific contributions.

While we were in Malibu I knew something had changed. One day I heard the Rocker laughing with his sister while the Groom was looking at his phone. My adult children know that TikTok is a bridge too far for me to cross, so they did their best to explain what had happened with my son’s latest trailer for the new Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie. Someone on TikTok connected the dots back to his company, Totem, and was giddy over the musical re-mix.

“The way it goes from No Woman No Cry into Alright and then how the music just goes into another gear at that 1:45 mark…,” another fan on Twitter said. And right before our eyes, Totem was blowing up on YouTube. I think that’s the right terminology.

When the Rocker was in high school, along with playing guitar in his band, he would always write his own music and play around with the oldies that our generation loved. His Fender Strat never left his hands. Since we had wonderful neighbors in the land between two rivers, the drum set stayed in our garage. Playing at the iconic Stone Pony in Asbury Park was just one highpoint of years and years of practice.

But to be honest, it wasn’t an easy trajectory. He left college to tour the world with The Parlor Mob; sleeping in vans and getting signed by one major record label only to be dropped and picked up by another. Some booking agents were better than others and of course they had to sell merchandise. He never complained. The accommodations improved, and the bar food was getting tastier as they worked their way up the ranks, but the entire music industry was changing around the boys in the band. Making a cohesive album of songs turned into 99 cent singles on your cell, or hearing your anthem play at an NHL arena.

He started off as a young boy listening to vinyl LPs in our living room, went straight into the teenage mixed cassette tape era crammed into his car’s windshield visor, and wound up with streaming music everywhere. Now he’s in the NYTimes! This is Eric Ducker’s intro:

“He’s played a crucial role in some of pop culture’s biggest recent moments. But few people outside of the space where the entertainment and marketing industries overlap know his name. As a composer, Rosen is at the forefront of the trailerization movement: He’s in demand for his ability to rework existing songs to maximize their impact in trailers for films and TV shows.He married vocals and motifs from Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” to a thunderous version of the “Stranger Things” theme in the lead-up to the second volume of the show’s fourth season. He intertwined the Nigerian singer Tems’s cover of “No Woman No Cry” with Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” in the teaser for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” symbolizing the meeting of the franchise’s future and its legacy.” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/06/arts/music/trailer-music-trailerization.html

Granted Ducker’s essay included other trailer houses, but it led with Totem and a close-up of my son’s face. What I love, besides that punim, is how the Rocker took a song from the 80s, and introduced it to a new generation. Kate Bush, who recorded Running Up That Hill when the Rocker was a newborn, has now made over 2 Million dollars in royalties since its debut in Stranger Things. https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2022/07/08/kate-bush-stranger-things-how-much-did-she-earn/

That’s a nice retirement package!

What I really really love about the Rocker is his humble heart. His wife Kiki, or his sister have to tell me when he’s received an award or is working with a famous director. He would never brag about his accomplishments and would always be the first to offer a friend a couch to sleep on. He’s even helped other East Coast artists adapt to the West Coast vibe. When he needed children to sing a lullaby, he turned to our little California cousins. And most importantly, the Rocker never stopped hugging me in public, even in Middle School.

While 90% of California is currently on flood watch due to atmospheric rivers of rain, we’ve been interviewing contractors about our HVAC system. It can barely keep up with the swing in Nashville temperatures. And I can barely keep up with technology. But the wind has always been at my son’s back.

I was reading one of those “end of the year” screeds about the cultural turning points for a new year. One of the writer’s admonitions rang true for me – there shall be no more offering up of a cell phone in someone’s face to prove a point! Or even to simply show a picture of your cat/dog/baby to anyone. Definitely. I’m guilty of this myself on occasion. We’ve all been a bit constricted by Covid in the past, but let’s keep those cell phones in our pockets, shall we?

And speaking of pockets, I will not buy another pair of pants without pockets, and I don’t care how “slimming” they might be. Even yoga pants have little side pockets for your phone. In fact, I shall do less shopping in general, online and otherwise. I will sift through my beautiful walk-in closet and delete the pants without pockets. There’s no need for any vintage shopping either since my closet is a veritable treasure trove of antiques. I’ve already sent Aunt Kiki some 60s sweaters so I’m well on the way to improving fashion industry’s waste.

The Bride was working on New Year’s Day, so I cooked up some of my famous Jerusalem chicken and had the Groom and Grands over for dinner. Of course I also spent the day soaking and creating a black-eyed pea concoction that was met with only some disdain by the Littles, but guaranteed to bring us Good Luck in 2023! And boy, do I need some of that luck this year. I asked the table what they had learned in the past year, and we all agreed to try very hard NOT to play the Blame Game this year – or as the Rocker likes to put it, you play the hand you get. You get Covid, you don’t get Covid, get over yourself!

Did you know the most searched word on Google last year was “Wordle?” I have to admit, Bob and I enjoy playing Wordle almost every morning. It’s short, fast and in an ER doc’s wheelhouse. I usually start at my desk, with alternating words; if you must know I use ADORE and PAINT don’t ask me why. Then I yell, “Help” plaintively. Bob will stop what’s he’s doing and come to the rescue. After all, I have to keep him busy since he retired. I’m pretty sure we will continue playing, but I shall stop posting my Wordle results to Twitter. I realize nobody on social media cares about my score – and in the dead of night I wonder if anyone on Twitter cares about me at all. The jury is still out about leaving Twitter since Elon Musk took over – check back with me in a few months.

The love/hate relationship with Facebook continues into 2023. I love hearing from old friends about their lives and this blog, but I hate the black hole of time it sucks out of my day. It shall remain only on my desktop computer… with all notifications turned off. So there!

Last year I wanted to be brave and chop off all my hair, but then my little falling incident happened. And because I was wheelchair-bound, I stopped visiting my fabulous Drag Queen Hair Stylist. My inner pixie is best left in last year. Ditto the whole bangs idea. Think Frances McDermott, not Goldie Hawn. Not that I have anything against Goldie, after all she started a foundation to help kids deal with anxiety: “Remembering my own childhood anxiety, I longed to show children everywhere how to rediscover their natural joy, understand the value of their emotions, and learn to feel empathy for others,” Hawn wrote in her book. https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/06/health/mindfulness-kids-goldie-hawn-life-itself-wellness/index.html

Now the locks are longer and of course Bob loves it. The longer the better! So I’m giving up my “after a certain age” rule of requesting only a predictable, short bob cut, and letting things go. And believe me, when Nashville froze over last week, I was happy to have some hairs on my neck.

Thankfully, the year of Real Butter is behind us. I never understood the whole charcouterie board of butter anyway. One of our small indulgences during the pandemic has been buying only Irish butter! Oh the color, the taste. But both Bob and I are trending upwards toward dangerous cholesterol levels, so we’ll be quite mindful this year about our eating habits. More fish, less red meat… and less butter. And the same goes for drinking. Last year’s dry January, has turned into 11 months of only the occasional glass of wine or canned cocktail.

Letting go of the devil may care, we’re all on the Titanic anyway, so why not just indulge days of the pandemic feels right. And in no way does this feel constricting; the opposite in fact. My mind and heart are opening to new ways of navigating this life – the road blocks, the speed bumps, the parallel parking. My dashboard light is getting brighter as I type.

Finally, I’ll keep some holiday decorations up all year long if I want. For instance, I strung some stuffed, felt letters across my Snug that spell out the Deck the Hall lyrics “F-A-L-A-L-A” in lots of different colors and every time I look at them I think Falafel, which makes me smile. But it also makes me hungry, so there’s that. Here is my secret recipe for Jerusalem spice: mix equal parts of salt, pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, and allspice. Happy New Year Everyone!

We’re betwixt and between winter holidays. The New Year approaches full of expectations, affirmations and regret. Let all the dreaded diet and exercise programs begin!

I came across the Festival of Nestivus on an anxiety blog Instagram account. It’s a cartoon of a cloud-like blob of anxiety that lets people know they don’t have to be the Do-everything-BE-everywhere Elf this season. Or any season actually. It reminds us to rest and recharge and retreat to our home nests whenever we want. The problem is, the Bride and Groom’s flight back from visiting the VA Grandparents was one of thousands cancelled this morning by Southwest.

Not that Nashville was all that comforting this week. We woke Christmas eve to minus ONE temps, so even if we wanted to go out for Chinese food and a movie, everything was closed. Our little Crystal Cottage grew ice crystals on the inside of our windows, and since we had a rain, turning to ice, turning to snow storm, I wasn’t stepping one foot outside!

For the first time ever we experienced “rolling blackouts.” Every few hours the power would suddenly go off for 10-15 minutes, it felt like we were living in a real banana republic. Once, I had simultaneously turned on the gas flame to heat up some homemade vegetable soup, when all the lights went out and the house turned dark. At least we had hot soup. The first time it happened we were panicked. The heat in this 80 year old house was barely keeping up with the outside temps.

Sometimes the inside thermometer hit 61!

One of our neighbors lost their power completely while they were away, and had a dog-sitter who couldn’t keep their dog at her house. So we rescued the cutest little Shih Tzu for a few days. Ms Bean welcomed her graciously, but wasn’t too happy about her sleeping on the bed with us. I loved having a sweet, lap dog in the house. And I must admit, Bob truly stepped up to the task of keeping the home fires burning…

…and the water running – all sinks were kept at a steady drip. Cabinet doors were left open. Outside spigots were insulated and a small heater was trained on the new shower wall. NO bursting pipes for these old New England geezers! I whipped up an Irish lasagna on Christmas Eve. What’s an Irish lasagna you might ask? It’s made with turkey and a cream sauce and we’re still enjoying it.

I must admit we binged a little Three Pines on Prime. I’ve only read one Louise Penny mystery, the one she wrote with Hillary Clinton, “State of Terror.” But the Prime video series is about her award-winning books featuring the French Canadian detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. I’m totally in love with the village of Three Pines and its quirky residents. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/11/alfred-molina-three-pines-best-role-of-his-career-interview

Bob and I also caught the final January 6 Committee Report, did you? https://january6th.house.gov/sites/democrats.january6th.house.gov/files/Report_FinalReport_Jan6SelectCommittee.pdf

Mr T let his mask slip, he’s been exposed for the con man that he is – a calculating, malicious miscreant. He must never be allowed to run for public office again. I truly hope our Attorney General does the right and proper thing and indicts him.

Meanwhile have a very Happy and Healthy 2023 everyone! Don’t climb any ladders, but do dance like no one is watching. We’ll be nesting here for the duration and I’ll be knitting, which makes the introvert in me extremely happy.

Here is Ms Bean telling the newcomer it’s too cold to go out!

To prepare for the Festival of Lights, we watched the new Pinocchio movie by Guillermo del Toro with the Grands. https://www.netflix.com/title/80218455

At the very end of this stop-action masterpiece of a movie, which does not end in the way we all think the fairy tale ends, the Pumpkin said, “Well that’s a cliff hanger!” Spoiler alert, the conclusion keeps us guessing. Del Toro weaves a dark story – Pinocchio’s father drinks too much, there are monsters in the deep sea and poker-playing rabbits keeping watch over the rainbow bridge to eternity. It’s not simply an allegory about lying and noses growing. It’s an homage to love in all its purest forms.

Kate Blanchett, who voiced the endearingly ugly monkey, Spazzatura (a name that means “garbage” in Italian), said this about the film: “Del Toro is “able to somehow Trojan-horse these really big discussions about fascism and humanity into a really entertaining movie that’s going to spark conversation,” Blanchett said, according to Netflix press materials. “I think it’s about curiosity and humility and the death of innocence, the loss of innocence, and about the deep love, the abiding love between people and it’s a real true adventure.” https://www.npr.org/2022/12/13/1142418925/academy-award-winner-alexandre-desplat-scores-del-toros-pinocchio

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice; it will also be the fourth night of Hanukkah. We Jews are in the middle of celebrating a little night magic – the oil in the Temple banishing the dark for eight nights, instead of one. I’ve placed my ‘vintage’ electric menorah in the living room window, while neighbors have felt the need to place signs reading, “We stand with our Jewish neighbors” on their lawns. We talk with our grandchildren about a little wooden puppet who wasn’t afraid to be different.

Starting tomorrow, the days, the light, will be getting longer. The temperatures are due to plummet to single digits. And by the grace of God, Merrick Garland may summon the courage to indict an ex, twice impeached president. As we say in the South, “He might could.” The January 6 Committee has shown us in stark detail what Mr T did for over three hours while a violent insurrection was happening at the Capital. He wanted to overthrow the will of the people, he was hoping for a coup, he did nothing to stop his base of proud boys and feckless women. He watched as one woman was shot in the face, and a police officer was crushed and beaten to near death.

I’m old enough to remember a time when Republicans actually stood up for their country above their party. We cannot compare the Nixon White House to the Trump years, although Intellectuals, Ivy Leaguers, and Jews were all equally despised. But we Americans found it in our hearts to forgive Nixon, or at least accept the Ford pardon for years of deceit. We found out about his shenanigans because he taped everything, probably for his library. Nixon too thought he was above the law.

“The Jews are all over the government,” Nixon complained to his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, in an Oval Office meeting recorded on one of a set of White House tapes released yesterday at the National Archives. Nixon said the Jews needed to be brought under control by putting someone “in charge who is not Jewish” in key agencies.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/oct99/nixon6.htm

Every single election denier was defeated last month. Truth cannot be subjective, there are no alternate versions of the Holocaust. And I can still believe in miracles.

Swaps

We all barter with ourselves. I’ll order the salad instead of fried calamari to start. If you pass this test, you’ll reward yourself with a night out. It’s our own personal sense of economics – guns vs butter, small decisions we must make, day in and day out. Which is why I find the Republican reaction to the Brittney Griner swap for Viktor Bout so enlightening.

Let’s preface this with my American flight home via Miami. Usually, I will read a good book on an airplane. Have you noticed that along with food, airlines no longer provide a travel magazine in your seat back? I always loved reading that magazine, and even know a travel writer who frequently published her essays in the happy skies. No worries for me; when I travel, jI load a ton of books on my iPad Kindle app, and I even remember to download them before getting on the plane! Imagine my face the first time I discovered this techno blip.

So here we were, in the flight from paradise, forever stuck on the tarmac. First it was our weights and balances. Then it was a delay because we were waiting for a “high priority package.” Bob predicted an organ was about to be transported. But then the Bride’s section said they saw a casket being wheeled out to the plane. Of course, one woman threw a fit and demanded to get off the plane, so they also had to find her luggage…

Needless to say. whatever emergency time cushion we had built into our connecting flight to Nashville was tick-tocking away.

I decided after saying my Hail Marys’ for take-off, that this might be the time to watch a movie instead of reading. Well, all those seat back monitors are gone now too, so it’s a good thing Bob had loaded the American Airlines app on my iPad. While browsing through their free movies, I came upon an old Tom Hanks flick from 2015. “Bridge of Spies.”

Hanks plays a NY insurance lawyer who negotiates the Cold War swap between a young Francis Gary Powers, a U-2 pilot shot down over Russia, and Rudolf Abel, an older Soviet spy…. ps, this really happened! Espionage always thrills me, but that scene when the plane is spiraling towards the ground made me rethink my in-flight entertainment choice. Arrangements were made to do the swap on a bridge in East Berlin. The interesting bit though was that a young economics student had managed to get himself scooped up by the Stazi just as the Berlin Wall was going up!

So Hank’s character naturally insists on swapping the student along with Powers for Abel – two for one. Just in case you may want to watch the movie, I won’t spoil the ending. I also noticed in our recent Griner for Bout swap, that Russian media covered the event live, while we did not, supposedly for our citizen’s privacy. And that Bout was embraced and hugged by someone, while Griner was simply led to a waiting car.

Far be it for me to critique our foreign policy, but I have to admire the Biden White House for negotiating the swap. Could they have insisted that a Marine, Paul Whelan, also be released from custody? Could they have said NO DEAL without the Marine? Sure. But I think Putin has a long memory, and I’d bet he remembers the swap during the Cold War, or he heard about it often as a young boy. And he wasn’t about to give us two prisoners for one again.

Meanwhile, holiday festivities have started off with a bang! I’ve been baking hostess treats and doing cards and walking all over our neighborhood. Yes, My last PT appointment was today, and I’m happy to have graduated!

OK Folks

Here’s what happened. As you already know, I fell off the lowest rung of a bunk bed ladder in July. All my doctor buddies said, “Phew, you didn’t break a hip!” As it turns out I broke one side of my pelvis, and then the other side broke due to osteoporosis. Now I am walking on my own again; no need for a wheelchair or scooter, and the pink flowered walker is behind me. As Bob likes to say, “Your bones are healed.” The problem is my psyche isn’t.

I stopped writing on this platform because I didn’t want MountainMornings to become a litany of my pain.

In retrospect I’m sorry I left everyone hanging. I’ve treated this blog as if it were my own newspaper column for years, never missing a deadline. I really loved synthesizing political news with personal updates. But today, I am much less of a news junkie; I start my day with coffee and Pinterest plus a little helping of a Master Class or two. My walk-in closet is finished, so the new/old/catawampus house is coming along. And I’m back in the kitchen, trying out new recipes.

Also, we’ve just returned from a trip to the French West Indies. Every day I’d jump step in the pool and do my physical therapy exercises – point tendu, jumping jacks, squats. And as a result, I’m so much stronger. I can tell because I don’t need to sit down on the shower seat during a shower. So that’s the good news.

The bad news is some of us got Covid.

But as the Rocker told his Dad, “Play the cards you’re dealt.” And we managed to eat at our favorite outdoor restaurants, to have delicious French food delivered to our door on the precipice of a cliff, and take a gorgeous new catamaran out in the ocean – twice. Because this small island in the Caribbean has been a family sanctuary since the Bride was the same age as her daughter. I loved seeing our Grands jump in the waves and frolic in the pool with pure joy.

One day at the supermarche, I bought Aunt Kiki the French edition of Architectural Digest. The very next day, the news broke that the latest American edition would feature a living room on the Top 100 2023 List COVER that Kiki and her team at Studio Shamshiri designed! We were all over the moon with happiness. Champagne was popped and even the Bride and Groom read the Architectural Digest story, on the beach, on her phone, since their electronics were locked in a safe. Yes, no screens on vacation for them.

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ad100-2023

We’re back in rainy Nashville. Bob is suffering from Covid-related Paxlovid rebound, and I’m feeling the need to write again, which is a good sign, don’t you think? Be gentle with yourselves around this holiday season. I’ve come to believe that moving slower, thinking longer, and worrying less about what might/could be is better for my psyche. My soul is catching up with my bones.

Golden Days

It’s day number five in the chair and I’ve already had enough.

Enough with the nest I made in the corner of the sectional. Enough with showering in a chair, even if it is a fancy teak bench. Enough with being confined to two rooms at the back of the house because there’s an inch and a half step into the kitchen. Enough of being dependent on Bob for literally everything… otoh I’m so glad he’s holding up!

IF I wanted to be grateful, and I do WANT to be, I’d write about the weather. This is that short heavenly time in the South – the time when it’s almost like being in California. Almost. Temps are in the 70-80s with low humidity and very few bugs. Bob helps me haul myself out to the zero gravity chair in the backyard and all the pain melts away under a beautiful blue sky while I get 15 minutes of vitamin D.

Ms Bean lies beneath the lavender hedge to keep me company.

I’d write about my daughter, who stops in nearly every day and arranged for a yoga teacher to give me my very own chair-yoga-practice. I’m definitely grateful to her for schlepping the grandkids and my emergency back-up emotional support French Bulldog with her. Even the Groom visits when she’s working. It’s good to have three docs in the family.

I’m very grateful to my family and friends, to everyone who called, texted and emailed. For bringing us Vietnamese food and wine. For having a clear-out-the fridge dinner before we were supposed to leave for Italy. And speaking of Italy; a big thank you to our friends for keeping us in the loop. Every day we get a pic or a text from the gang, who I will now dubb “The Italian Job” after a movie from 2003.

“The Italian Job is simple. An explosive guy, a safe-cracker, a computer genius, a wheel-man and a man with a spectacular plan of stealing 35 Million in gold bars.”

I loved that movie! OUR Italian Job includes an educational administrator, an educator, a lawyer, an engineer and a public health official who plan on enjoying their tour with Marco and Claudio and their truffle sniffing dog. Maybe they will buy some gold for their wives? Or maybe the wives will buy them something, or they will send big crates of red wine and cheese home?

I’m already planning the next soiree.

The biggest thanks goes to Bob for putting up with my, “Honey could you do me a favor” queries every few hours minutes. But while we’re all wondering just what Mr T was doing with his cohorts on his golf course in NJ, I’ve been putting the Love Bug to work. My wheelchair can’t fit into the new MBR closet, so I asked her to finish gilding my plain wooden full length mirror. I’ve never owned a full length mirror, and now I can’t even see myself in it, which is just as well.

Because as I’m writing this at the game table in the family room since I also can’t fit into the Snug, I can see that my gratitude is outweighing my grief.

My Golden Girl

Cheerleading

Today I wore my airplane travel outfit and stayed home – comfy Eileen Fisher sweats and my new lilac shearling Berks.

Today is the day we were supposed to meet up with our friends in Viareggio, Italy and cook together and laugh together and visit wineries and flower markets and you get the picture.

Instead, Bob ordered a wheelchair and a walker and we sat around without wifi because Google Fiber was down.

Another old school thing I did was reread Mary Laura Philpot’s book “Bomb Shelter.” It has served me well over the past year. She was writing about people who have nothing better to do than criticize perfect strangers. Some woman at a book conference told her no one would take her seriously if she dressed “that way.”

How was she dressed? She had on a colorful fuzzy patterned skirt.

It reminded me of meeting someone outside in a tent on the Navesink River. It was a fancy fundraiser for something and I was introduced as the local columnist . This older woman with a ponytail and a big bow at the nape of her neck said, “So THAT’S you claim to fame!” Then she turned away and took another sip of Chardonnay.

I wish I had a list of snappy rebuttals. I should have said, “Honestly Bunny, where do you buy your ribbons?” Or “Well aren’t you a rude bitch?” and walked away. Instead I swallowed my pride because like Philpot, I desperately wanted to be taken seriously.

Women get a bad rap. We need to smile. We need to be caretakers and selfless, humble human beings. We are expected to wear makeup and dress a certain way. That is what my generation was taught. But what we really need to be is cheerleaders for each other. We should be passing on the light, encouraging our sisters to reach farther, to climb our very own ladders of success.

We told our daughters that anything was possible, and then after 49 years of settled precedent, Roe was defeated.

And I fell off a tiny ladder and it turns out it was worse than I could have imagined and I kept walking and stretching and pushing until I couldn’t walk anymore. It serves me right, thinking pure willpower would fix a broken bone. So now I have two! The doctor told me to “shut it down,” no more walking. Rest.

I’m taking myself seriously now. I’m listening to my orthopedic doctor and I’ll sit in a wheelchair for awhile. But today the Queen died.

I thought about her life and her Corgis and how people always took her seriously. It just came with the job. I’d watched every single episode of the Crown; her legacy of selfless devotion to her people seems archaic today. But I adored her. I’m sure she was thrilled that Harry and Meghan named their daughter after her. She was the same age as Great Grandma Ada when she died.

My MIL Adala who wrote a thesis about using humor in therapy. Who studied to become a clown. I’d rather be a cheerleader than a critic in this one life we get to live.

Wouldn’t you?

My last stand
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